16: The Unexpected Roommate

16: The Unexpected Roommate

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens

The Unexpected Roommate

In the cookies of life, sisters are the chocolate chips.

~Author Unknown

“How many bedrooms?” I asked my mom. “Five,” she said over her shoulder as she shoved the last suitcase under the front passenger seat. We had just managed to load all our bags into the shuttle and were in the process of piling in ourselves. It seemed like hours since our plane had landed in Brazil, and it seemed like years since the last time we had slept. At last we were on the road and headed to our new apartment. My dad was busy trying to give directions to the driver in Portuguese. My older sister, Ona, was staring wide-eyed out the window. My brother was busy with his Game Boy, and my little sister, Abby, was leaning against my mother and sleeping.

I know I probably should have been more excited about being in a foreign country. I should have taken that time in the shuttle to look around and absorb all the new sights and sounds. Truthfully, all I could think about was our new five-bedroom apartment. Five bedrooms! That meant that I would get my own room. I was overjoyed. My own room — I wouldn’t just be sharing a room with my big sister anymore. I would have a room all to myself. I could decorate it however I wanted. I could have my own bedroom rules that all guests had to follow. My bedroom would be a symbol of my growing individuality, my maturity. I was ten years old, after all. “Ten years old and with my own room,” I sighed happily.

I was beyond upset when my family arrived at our new apartment and I learned that I would be sharing a bedroom with Abby. I was furious.

Our apartment was a little different than the houses I was used to. On one side of the apartment there were four bedrooms and then in the complete opposite corner of the apartment — past the kitchen, pantry and laundry room — there was a little bedroom for the family’s empregada, or housekeeper. We didn’t have an empregada, and so I asked my mom why Abby couldn’t move into that little room.

My mom, weary from the many hours of travel, simply told me, “No.”

“Why not?” I demanded.

“Abby isn’t going to be by herself in a completely different part of the apartment every night,” she explained. “She’s only seven!”

“So!” I mumbled.

“Would you like to sleep out there?” she asked me.

I thought about the little room way in the back of the apartment. “No,” I admitted, but quickly added, “but I’m older. I should get the bigger room.”

My mom again told me no.

“Well then I can share a room with Ona. Abby can have her own room.”

My mom said no again. “Ona is the oldest, and she needs her own room.”

I couldn’t believe my mother. Sharing a room with Abby after sharing a room with my older sister felt like I was being demoted, like I was being sent back to the kids’ table at Thanksgiving. It was ridiculous, especially since I was on the cusp of my teenage years. Ona was a teenager. If I had to share a room with anyone, it should be her. It was obvious.

“I’m not sharing a room with Abby! You told me there were five bedrooms, so I should have my own room!” I was becoming hysterical — partly because of jet lag and partly because I wasn’t as mature as I believed.

My mom continued, “Amy, I’m sorry, but you and Abby are sharing a room. And that’s final.”

Poor Abby. It wasn’t her fault. Eventually, everything smoothed out, but things were rocky at first. I was anything but sisterly. I was actually quite bratty — hiding Abby’s favorite toys, making her play games that were completely unfair, locking her out, demanding that she remake her bed again and again because she was doing it “wrong.”

Despite all of this Abby still wanted to play with me and hang out. She wanted me to join in whatever she was doing. This was a welcome change. I was used to begging Ona to play with me. The best I could do most of the time was convince her to read aloud from one of her books while I cleaned our room. Abby, on the other hand, was up for anything — making Halloween or Christmas decorations for our windows, hide and seek, dolls, tea parties, toy parades, and playing with stuffed animals.

We played with our stuffed animals a lot — making up stories, having adventures. I adored my stuffed animals, particularly a little brown and pink plushy elephant named Hosey. Hosey was my little buddy. He would snuggle with me as I attempted to read a book that was “too old” for me, and occasionally he would cuddle with me while I read one of Abby’s books that was perhaps “too young” for me. He would watch movies with me, do homework with me, and always slept in late on Saturdays with me. Hosey would play with Abby and me, and it was okay. Abby didn’t tell me that I was too old to have an imaginary friend. She didn’t laugh at me when Hosey started talking about his little sister Peanut or his uncle Fred who was forever breaking things. Abby never told me to “grow up,” and she never pointed out that Hosey “wasn’t real.” He was just a fellow well-loved playmate. No problem there.

I shared a room with Abby for the entire three years that my family lived in Brazil. Somewhere during those three years I realized that Abby was pretty cool — not just because she didn’t tease me when girls my own age probably would have, and certainly not because she was star-struck by her big sis. Abby very quickly grew out of that phase. No, I just began to see Abby as Abby and not my little sister. We became best friends. To this day no one can make me laugh or smile like Abby. And there is no one more fun to hang with.

During the whole experience, I always thought how lucky Abby was. If we hadn’t been in Brazil, sharing a room, then Abby wouldn’t have been able to hang out with me as much. I doubt we would have spent even half as much time together, and I know we would not have become best friends.

Now that I am older and wiser I know that I was the lucky one. I realize now that I wasn’t exactly my little sister’s first choice when it came to playmates. Sure I was her big sister and a certain degree of admiration came with the title, but little sisters will only take so much brattiness before they stop inviting you to tea parties and toy parades altogether. If it hadn’t been for Brazil, I would have totally missed out on my best friend. Luckily, I didn’t.

~Amelia Hollingsworth

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